I love my SuperNova, for the most part..

First a big Thank You to all who helped answer my previous questions regarding this boat and the outfitting etc. I know most, if not all, of the questions I ask are old hat for the majority of you, but for me it is all new and very exciting stuff!

Anyhow, I finished the outfitting of the boat Saturday and spent Sunday on 14miles of a local class I/II river and had a BLAST! This boat is FUN on moving water!!! Catches eddies like magic! The secondary stability amazes me, I knew I was heading in the drink a couple times and the lean stopped just below the gunwale, really impressive! I somehow managed to forget my bailer and my sponge, and I didn’t even need it. Only accumulated about a half inch of water in the bilge for the whole day.

OK, now for the pool sections between the rapids…different story here. I know this is an “advanced” boat and way over my head ability wise, but it came up for sale used locally and I had to give it a try…you just don’t see these kind of used boats out west often.

It seems to have mid of it’s own on flatwater…I don’t know how else to describe it. I am doing a top notch job (IMO) of going in a straight line with a nice “J” stroke and everything is beautiful, and then moments later, with seemingly no input on my part, it will just start veering off in one direction, and it happens so fast that it is just about all I can do to get the rotation stopped before I am facing the opposite direction. By the end of the day I was able to anticipate when this was going to happen and stop it before it got out of hand, but it really leaves me wondering what is going on here?

I read a review of this boat (I think by Charlie Wilson), who said “If your forward stroke is “developing”, you will end up seeing all the corners of the lake.”, … this is exactly how I felt, but only on flatwater…when the water was moving at a decent clip it was a peach???

I would appreciate any ideas and tips you might have. I know I am a noob in an advanced boat, but I am really enjoying the challenges this boat presents and am bound and determined to get it mastered.



I sure hope I’m right about this
I paddled a Super extensively for about 5 years. That boat taught me the J stroke.

But the only time I had the experience you described regarding suddenly veering offline was when the bow was trimmed too heavy.

Were you in the boat empty? If you had gear, was it in front or behind? And of course there’s a good chance your seat is in the Supernova “wayback” position. So … like I said, I hope I’m right that your trim was bow heavy.

Otherwise, your technique needs a little more work with a 3" rockered boat, or the boat is wanked somehow (which I doubt).

I have re-positioned the seat
one hole forward, and in static testing (balanced on 2x4 at center point) it shows neutral trim with my day pack lashed in front of me. About half way through the day it occured to me to move the bag behind me, and if it did make a difference, it wasn’t much.

“your technique needs a little more work with a 3” rockered boat"…yes, I am sure this is at the core of my issues. :~) I was just suprised that I did not have the same problems while in heavy current? Of course having a bow heavy trim might help in current…“following” the load maybe?

I am finding it hard to work today…I just want to be back on the river!


I wish I was there to demonstrate what
you need to do. The boat will cooperate and run straight if you can get your stroke “forward” with a firm catch. The result is that you are pulling the boat forward by the nose. J-stroke and rudder stroke are only for when the bow gets off line, due to wind, current, or a mistake of your own.

What happens with this “cab forward” stroke is that, when you get a firm catch, the bow pushes away toward the other side, raising a little ridge of water. During the recovery, that little ridge actually pushes the bow back. Once you get the hang of it, you can see it happen. I can paddle my canoes, which have much more rocker than yours, without using a J stroke or rudder stroke most of the time.

If you have access to the Kent Ford/Bob Foote/Wayne Dickert video “Drill Time,” they discuss this phenomenon also. They picture it as the bow of the boat being cocked slightly toward the paddle side, so that the boat side-slips a little, but travels in a straight line. I do not agree with them on the mechanism, because I have seen the same phenomenon on low rocker, relatively sharp-ended boats like my Mad River Guide. The fact that the bow bounces back toward the paddle during recovery shows that a ridge of water must have been created on the side opposite the paddle during the power phase.

What side was it veering to?
I’ve never paddled a Supernova but I have paddled a lot of rockered WW boats.

It could be trim, improper technique or, if the veer is to the paddle side, it could be the phenomenon g2d describes.

If heeled to the paddle side, rockered boats will develop an asymmetrical bow wave pressure that pushes the bow toward the paddle side. This counter intuitive force can become so strong that it can even overpower corrective sweep strokes.

To paddle a rockered boat straight, and assuming proper trim, you can do it three ways:

  1. Keep the boat level (no heel) to minimize asymmetrical bow pressures, and use a very well developed correction stroke such as the J, C or Canadian.

  2. Heel to the paddle side and learn to counterbalance your forward stroke against the bow pressure force. This simply requires a lot of practice time, but even then you may start to veer once you stop or slow down your paddling.

  3. Use a double blade on the flats.

Practice - Practice - Practice

– Last Updated: Jun-15-09 4:22 PM EST –

It sounds to me like you are "right on schedule" regarding the learning curve. The previous posts definitely have merit, but let's not forget that this is a boat that WILL teach you how to paddle!

The tendency for the boat to suddenly decide it needs to take a look at where it has been goes with the territory, as highly maneuverable boats (same is even true for airplanes) are by nature directionally unstable. The trick is to keep paddling/practicing. The time will come when you instantly detect very tiny implusive changes in heading and just modify the stroke you are making to account for it. THIS is why it is often said that when solo canoeing, no two paddle strokes are ever the same. In a boat like yours, you really can custom-tailor every stroke to suit what is happening "right now". When you react to much more subtle variations in boat-behavior than you do now, the amount that you need to modify your stroke will also be much less than you are doing right now. Give it time. You will get the hang of it. In the mean time, consulting any of the good books on solo paddling would be a wise thing, to make sure you don't accidently develop any bad habits. Oh, and regarding that kind of thing, it will definitely help to learn methods of correction either during or between strokes besides the old reliable 'J'.

It does take a little getting use to
In my Encore, the J stroke is my primary correction stoke on flatwater, but sometimes its just not enough. If I’m starting to spin away from my paddle side (happens to everyone), a quick stern pry will get me back on course. Flatwater paddlers tend to frown on the stern pry (or goon stroke), but in a WW boat, its often the easiest way to get yourself back on track. Another great correction stroke is the cross forward which you can use to keep the boat going straight while maintaining forward momentum.

You won’t learn this stuff by watching a video, but you might pick up some ideas that you’ll want to try on the water. As mentioned by g2d, “Drill Time” is a good video to get. Kent Ford’s first video – “Solo Playboating” – is good as well. In my opinion the best video is Tom Foster’s “Solo Open Whitewater Canoeing”.

Good luck.

Tom’s video discusses what he refers to as “carving circles” or “paddling the inside circle” both onside, and offside, in some detail.

As g2d said, I find the technique very useful for cruising on flatwater at some speed since it requires little or no correction. The trick is to try to enlarge a circle to infinite radius (ie, paddle in a straight line) without losing the pinning effect of the offside bow wave.

With a less-rockered non-whitewater canoe, I often combine this method with a switch, and simply change sides when I lose the circle and start a new circle on the opposite side. This allows me to take maybe a dozen strokes or more on one side (instead of 4 or 5) before switching, allows travel in a virtually straight line, and doesn’t require as much concentration as paddling pure circles does.

Carving in a SuperNova
I have all of 20 minutes seat time in a SuperNova but much of that was trying to demo carving.

I found that the hull will carve with no correction but it’s pretty delicate. So long as I paid attention and the breeze didn’t blow I could hold a carve on my onside. I had less sucsess on my offside. Much as I’d like to blame the excessive beam of the boat, my offside is not the best. By contrast a boat like the Outrage really locks onto that carve. An Encore needs an extreem heel but once you get that it to locks in the carve on either side.

So in a SuperNova I’d expect to do a lot of J’s and prys to hold my course.


Thanks for all of the info!
The boat would almost always veer to my off side, but I think it “attempted” to veer equally to each side, it is just easier to correct an onside veer with a quickly placed wide power stroke/sweep. If I did not catch an offside veer immediately with a stout stern pry, the amount of force required to right the course was suprising.

Because of the boats low primary stability, I found myself dipping the on-side of the boat with each power stroke. Though I tried not to do this, I just couldn’t seem to stop it. I would always transfer a little weight onto my onside knee, and I thought this might have been a contributing factor to the veering? I was also fighting a fairly stiff upstream wind, which could have magnified the problem a bit more than I am used to in my MR Explorer.

As far as carving turns go, I practiced them quite a bit on my local lake around the swimming area buoys and am able to hold and change the radius of the circle fairly well, it is just very hard (almost impossible right now) for me to transition from an offside to an onside circle. I cannot get enough force with an offside bow sweep to skid the stern into an onside circle. The only thing I can think of trying next time out is a hefty stern pry…? I have no problems transitioning from an onside to an offside circle.

Thanks for the tip on Tom Foster’s video, looks great, I have found it for sale and am going to pick up a copy.

It seems that what I am experiencing is par for the course with this boat, I’m just starting to climb a long learning curve. I don’t think I will find myself getting “bored” with this boat anytime soon!!!

Transitions from offside circles

– Last Updated: Jun-17-09 6:18 AM EST –

to onside circles are tough. Nothing wrong with a stern pry to get the boat turning back to your onside, but you better be moving fast because you will lose some momentum. Its always better to control the boat from the front - "cab forward" as g2d describes it - if you can.

Tom Foster says there are three ways to transition a carve from one side to the other – paddle harder (take more powerful stroke), take a longer stroke (“nip the eddy resistance end of the boat”) or paddle a little further out from the boat (but still parallel to the keel line) – maybe all three at once. In my Encore it usually takes a couple of strong cross forward strokes, but I can eventually get the boat carving back to my onside. On the river if I really needed to change direction quickly, I’d just do the stern pry.

Oh yeah, one other thing - once you get use to carving, having the boat leaning to your onside will be a good thing - see g2d's post above.

Sounds like you are well on your way – have fun.